Considerate contractors in SE1

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Thursday 19 June 2014 12.09pm
Prompted by Tabularasa's comment in another thread about the construction work in the north of the borough. Here is a taste of what you have to look forward to when the developers and construction workers come to a location, location, location near you. We do have a detailed log of all the goings on for the interested reader, so let me know if you want to see this.
I quote from one of our residents at Quadrant House
"I've just had a call from Martin Talbot in response to my official complaint against GPE, Mace and the various sub-contractors. He was about as unhelpful as anyone could be and said the site is allowed to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since the Section 61 notice expired in April. Why QH tenants have never been told this I have no idea. I / we were led to believe that Council byelaws stipulated 8am-6pm on weekdays, 8am-1pm on Saturdays and no noisy works allowed on Sundays, unless an extension to these hours was applied for and this was the premise of my complaints to the building owners and Southwark Council.

Apparently, the only recourse we have against the noisy, disruptive and increasingly distressing situation is to call the noise team every time we're disturbed. I pointed out to Martin that I called the noise team around 25 times during the course of Saturday 14th June and didn't get through once. I've also copied them in on all the recent emails and received an automated response each time to say they would respond within 3 working days, but to call if the matter was urgent. I've not received any response, even after emailing to ask them to call me on Saturday. When I pointed this out to Martin he said 'why would you have done, if we're just cc'd we don't think it needs a response'. Breathtakingly rude.

We've been told in the past to keep a log of all instances so the noise team could use this to help us, but basically they're refusing to do so because they say they expect construction companies to behave responsibly. What exactly is the point of wasting so much time on compiling an on-going log of disturbances if Southwark won't take any action?

Anyway, I've now contacted our local councillors, Adele, David and Maria, to see if there's anything they can do to help.
Thursday 19 June 2014 2.13pm
You and your family well-being stands in the way of maximizing profit by building as quickly as possible 24h per-day 7/7 week-end included. How dare you request that the Council applies its own policy?

Since you are unlikely to know anyone in the media or activist circles which could bring some national interest on this local matter, I doubt you will get any resolution.

It took an Australian camera crew to get Cllr John in Cathedral Ward (Yes! We have video evidence of the sighting). What do you have to offer?

You ask "What exactly is the point of wasting so much time on compiling an on-going log of disturbances if Southwark won't take any action? "

To show that the Council is doing something without getting in the way of the construction crew. They are basically covering their ass.

... thanks for trying.

The power of local councilors in such matters is very limited despite their best intentions. 4 year of Labour administration has seen to that.
Thursday 19 June 2014 7.34pm
Well, here is more from the building manager to residents at QH. We can hardly wait.

"I just wanted to advise you of a large move happening on the 11th and 12th of July. We have 2 floors moving in and there will be a lot of deliveries throughout the day and night.

They have checked this with southwark council and they have advised us that we have no restrictions on deliveries and that construction deliveries are the only ones governed by the 8am – 6pm time restrictions.
I wanted to make you aware of this in advance so you can advise your neighbours"

What a nightmare for those living on the north facing side of the building, and this is just the beginning.
Friday 20 June 2014 10.49pm
Well, we took our concerns to Councillor Adele Morris who replied:

"The noise team hasn't given them permission, the planners appear to have failed to consider residential amenity issues when agreeing the 'service management plan' and have put no restrictions on the times allowed for servicing and delivery.

That said, the noise team can and should attend if they are called out by residents - that is, after all, what they are there for!

I am currently making enquiries with officers as to how this is going to be dealt with"

Fingers crossed.
It is QH this time, and a development near you soon!!!!
Monday 23 June 2014 11.29pm
We are regularly kept awake by network rail using things like leaf blowers on Waterloo East at 3am or painting things (and not big industrial things as you might imagine but a guy with a paintbrush carefully painting a pole, with super bright lights and someone next to him merrily hitting a piece of metal wIth a hammer). Sometimes they will leave a train switched on and I will spend two hours looking for someone until I find a competent person who will go oh yeah, I'll turn it off, while I'm exhausted from lack of sleep.

We also have TfL staff cleaning the big blue thing on Isabella street at 3am, because presumably cleaning it during the day might disrupt the people who drink in the bars or the rough sleepers at the back. The best ones are the incredibly noisy road repairs where men stand in the street shouting at each other and taking it in turns to bang metal things. And yes, that's probably a very technical bashing of metal and not just some guy beating a man hole cover for 35 minutes until he can open it.

As far as I can tell there is no limit on what anyone can do, there are limits on operating times while constructing buildings but if BT decide to dig up the road in the middle of the night and claim it's an emergency, no one has any power to do anything.

I agree, today QH tomorrow anyone, as we already suffer ridiculous amounts of noise in this area and apparently the council are powerless to do anything about it.
Tuesday 24 June 2014 7.22am
Zoe wrote:
council are powerless to do anything about it.

or simply lack the will to do anything about it for fear of angering the developers that are pouring cash to fund their pet projects?

Try to get a clear answer on that one from Southwark Council: "How many times has the planning committee rejected a major planning application over the past 4 years?"

I tried and no one wanted to give me an answer. Apparently, the council does not keep tabs on such stats...
Tuesday 24 June 2014 7.32pm
The noise we are suffering isn't just from the building of new blocks, which was the point I was making, it comes from a variety of sources and the council lacks power to deal with a lot of it. Even the normal construction of a building creates incredible noise, all quite legitimately and it's not about the council's relationship with developers that's the problem, but that there are no national controls on noise levels.
Thursday 26 June 2014 3.35pm
No, this is not a spoof taken from the pages of Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs section. It is a response to the noise and disruption on Burrell Street where residents of QH are slowly going bonkers. Ever had one of those dreams where you are running and running, but not even leaving the spot?
Here goes if you can face reading it.

"I was sorry to hear about your dissatisfaction with the noise team, and in particular the team leader.For ease, I will respond to the points raised.
25 calls to the noise team since 14th June 2014 According to our records, the last time you contacted the noise team was 2006. However, that is not to say you did not ring the call centre. You may not be aware, the noise team does not take calls directly. All calls are received by the call centre, who take all pertinent details and then pass the service request to the team. Unfortunately, the call centre have been experiencing certain issues, one of them being call wait times. This can lead to customers simply giving up, and then hanging up the phone. Unless someone complains (as in this case), the noise team have no way of knowing how many customers attempted to ring. I am already working with the call centre on trying to 'fix' or alleviate these problems, and am hopeful that things will improve. Notwithstanding that this is a call centre issue, I apologise for the lack of service you received, and I will be passing this issue over to the call centre.
Responding to emails Again, you may not be aware, the council has suffered severe issues with their IT systems, this made it difficult to access inboxes etc. As I understand it, apologised for the instances where the noise team were contacted directly and no response was received. However, regarding the response concerning mails we are cc'd into, (notwithstanding the fact that we couldn't initially access these), X should have taken a different tone and he has been told this. On speaking with him he could see how this may have been interpreted and apologises.
Site Operational Times The primary regulation of this site was with the Environmental Protection Team (EPT), as it was they who served the section 61 notice under the Control of Pollution Act 1974.
This type of notice is applied for by the contractors requesting prior consent, and it sets out the methods of work and times of operation they require. This is then agreed or amended by the EPT, the Noise Team have no part in this element. Unfortunately, when X spoke you, the section 61 had expired. On speaking with the EPT, they informed him it was no longer a building site, and so didn't need extending.
As such, there was/is no notice in place that restricts their methods or working time, so when X said they could work 24hrs, he did not mean they should, but that currently there was nothing preventing them (as the 61 had lapsed). Therefore, the only current 'formal' remit would be to use nuisance law (Environmental Protection Act 1990), and that this would require officers to visit in response to a service request . Having looked at your comments, and having spoken to X, I feel that he could have taken more time to explain how the law operates, and to clarify what he meant. Again, he has taken this on board and apologises. 
Breaches thus far Having looked at the emails, all concerns raised, 3 were sent whilst the sec 61 was in place (notice expired 30th March 2014).
Whilst I appreciate that the noise team were cc'd in, they as you know, need to witness any breach. As calls were not made/received to/by the team at those times (emails were), we had no opportunity to go out 'in real time'. Y from the EPT (who agreed the sec 61) was also cc'd in, as such, X thought that EPT (as the lead team) would be dealing. Notwithstanding that, I feel that we should have still contacted you to acknowledge mails, and let you know who was dealing.
Having now spoken to X, I can now confirm that no breaches have been witnessed or addressed by him. However, as the noise team have never been alerted to a 'real time' complaint (I acknowledge this is not necessarily down to you, but could be a call centre issue), they did not have the opportunity to react.
Y confirmed that the sec 61 Notice expired at the end of March as he was informed that construction works were completed and Mace had handed back the building to the client (GPE).
After discussing with the 240 building manager on Tuesday, Y was informed that there remains a pocket of Mace (construction contractors) workforce on site doing snagging works - he is in the process of establishing what works still remain and for how long. It has been made clear to him that whatever they may be, still falls under the standard normal working hours regime. As such, he is minded to serve another notice on them to cover whatever works they have left as part of your log does contain what appears to be construction works happening outside of core hours. Y has said he will be emailing you.
As for the majority of the deliveries complained about, it is Y’s understanding that this relates to the now functioning commercial building and therefore falls out the remit of any s61 agreement. He has looked into the planning permissions and they have not imposed restrictions on delivery times. Unfortunately, this means that this matter would fall back onto whether such deliveries being undertaken at anti-social times would be causing a statutory nuisance (as you know this would have to be witnessed).
Taking all of the above into account, I agree that X could have handled things differently, and both X and I apologise for this lapse. I also feel that when we are cc'd into emails, we need to change the automatic response whereby clients are informed that they will be contacted back (as this may not be the case if a different team is dealing).
Please do not hesitate to get back to me if you need any further information, or need to discuss this matter further. Kindest regards Unit Manager Noise & Nuisance Team"
Friday 27 June 2014 5.41pm
Bored to death of "considerate contractors"?
We at QH definitely are.
The building noise and mess are bad enough, and now our tormentors have thought up something new to keep residents awake and cursing through the hot, sleepless nights.

"We also have on-going issues with their fire evacuation warning system going off at all hours.  The  first time was on 30th May, starting at 12.45am and continuing on and off throughout the night.  The latest two incidents were last Monday and again last night just before midnight.  A voice says 'fire has been detected in the building, please evacuate' and this is  followed by an awful siren, then the whole thing starts again, round and round and round.  It's impossible to sleep through.  Why does it keep going off and why does it have to be so loud?  Surely it should be audible only within the building? I have complained about this to the Building Manager who said staff have been trained 'to deal with it'.  The point is, it shouldn't be going off unless there's a fire. Perhaps this is something the noise team could tackle proactively?
There are three issues here:
1) It shouldn't be going off at all unless there's a fire.
2) If there's a fault, which there obviously is, why hasn't it been rectified by now?
3) If the alarm does go off why is it audible outside the building?  We shouldn't be woken up by your alarm, faulty or otherwise.  Surely there must be some way of controlling the noise level?
Friday 27 June 2014 6.09pm
I bet it's being set of by dust, they should isolate areas worked in, it wouldn't surprise me if either a) they don't know how to do it yet, yet to receive training, or b)they are not reading the drawings right and isolating the wrong areas.
I've been a maintenance worker in such a situation, it's all up in the air and quite often there's battles over who is responsible for the fire alarms etc.
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